Feeds

US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code

Slow and kludgy rollout will protect corporate profits

Build a business case: developing custom apps

US mobile companies have finally agreed to install free anti-theft software on their products, but not until the middle of next year and they plan to leave it turned it off by default.

The CTIA, which dubs itself "the Wireless Association," announced that its members – including Apple, Samsung, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile US, among others – will preload free software that will provide a kill-switch if the smartphone is stolen and enable remote wiping of handsets, and the ability to restore data from backups in the unlikely event of the purloined product being recovered.

"We appreciate the commitment made by these companies to protect wireless users in the event their smartphones are lost or stolen," said Steve Largent, president of the CTIA. "By working together with policymakers, law enforcement and consumers, we will deter theft and protect users' personal information on smartphones."

That said, they aren't exactly pulling out all the stops to do so. The new code will only be available on new handsets sold after July 2015 and it won’t be switched on by default, meaning less technical users might not know how to activate it.

The CTIA's members have been under increasing pressure to act on smartphone theft, which now accounts for over half of all theft cases in New York and San Francisco. State law officials in both regions formed the Save Our Smartphones initiative to try and encourage mobile manufacturers to do more to make stolen phones less valuable, but said this was being resisted because companies will lose out on selling lucrative insurance and replacement handsets.

“While CTIA’s decision to respond to our call for action by announcing a new voluntary commitment to make theft-deterrent features available on smartphones is a welcome step forward, it falls short of what is needed to effectively end the epidemic of smartphone theft," said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

"We strongly urge CTIA and its members to make their anti-theft features enabled by default on all devices, rather than relying on consumers to opt-in. The industry also has a responsibility to protect its consumers now and not wait until next year. Every week that passes means more people are victimized in street crimes that often turn violent, and more families will have to endure the needless loss of a loved one." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.